Acer palmatum

Acer palmatum, the Japanese Maple is a large shrub or small tree, often multistemmed, which is the most popular single species for autumn colour insuitable areas. It grows best in temperate regions in sheltered conditions with a humid atmosphere and acid soils. It is very variable and many varieties are grown which have different sizes and autumn colouring. Hillier lists nearly 40 named varieties. As the single most influential species for autumn colour, I judge it to be worth a page to itself.

Acer palmatum glade at Bodnant, north Wales.

Acer palmatum glade, Thorpe Perrow, Yorks.

Acer palmatum 'Osakazuki' reflected in water. Thorpe Perrow, Yorks.

Acer palmatum 'Atropurpureum Group'. Plants which have red or purple-tinged leaves during the summer, especially when they first emerge, tend to be very variable, and include many different seedlings, few of which have been individually named. The tend to be put under the 'umbrella' of Atropurpureum Group'. Almost all have good red colour in autumn when it can be difficult to separate them from varieties which have green summer leaves which colour bright red. Wisley, UK.

Acer palmatum Atropurpureum Group, close. Bodnant, Wales.

Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood'. A selection from Atropurpureum group with brilliant autumn colour and rather finely dissected leaves. Knightshayes, Devon.

Acer plamatum 'Bloodgood' close. Wisley, UK.

The Acer palmatum dissectum group have finely dissected leaves and a mounded habit so that branches become positively geotropic. Within the group are many named varieties, some of which are also called 'Atropurpureum'. These have purple leaves in summer and all colour a good red, making a superb statement on a large rock garden..

Acer palmatum dissectum 'Crimson Queen'. Ness, UK. As it says, a Dissectum which colours a light orange-red.

Acer palmatum dissectum. 'Ornatum'. Knightshayes, Devon.

Acer palmatum dissectum. A golden selection from Thorpe Perrow, Yorks.

Acer palmatum 'Elegans' has rather small leaves with a good red autumn colour. Bodnant, north Wales.

Leaves of Acer palmatum 'Elegans'

Acer palmatum 'Fireglow'. Probably another selection of A.p.'Atropurpureum' Group. Bodnant, north Wales.

Acer palmatum 'Hogyuku'. Thorpe Perrow, Yorks. Unlike most of the preceding, this is a selection which colours golden.

Acer palmatum 'Linearilobum'. Thorpe Perrow, Yorks. A very distinctive selection with very finely cut foliage and reddish-gold autumn colour. Needs a good deal of shelter.

Acer palmatum 'Lin-ling'. Another red-gold selection, this dwarf plant also has very dissected leaves, but less cut than in 'Linearilobum'. Wisley, UK.

Acer palmatum 'Moonfire' is another of the scarcely distinct selections of the Atropurpureum Group. Wisley, UK.

Acer palmatum 'O-kagami' is a compact plant with a particularly neat form and very good red autumn colour. Wisley, UK.

Acer palmatum 'Osakazuki' is perhaps the most frequently encountered variety with good red foliage. It is bigger than most, forming a small tree, and is reliable and long-lived, never failing to colour well. Thorpe Perrow, Yorks.

Acer palmatum 'Osakazuki'. A small tree in the author's garden with carefully chosen companions.

Acer palmatum 'Red Wood'. Thrope Perrow, Yorks. An unusual semi-fastigiate selection with bright yellow autumn colour. The name is given for the red twigs, particularly vivid in spring.

Acer palmatum 'Sangu-kaku'. One of the tallest and most popular of the selections which colour yellow in autumn. Kew, UK.

Acer palmatum Senkaki'. Knightshayes, Devon. Foliage in early autumn. This yellow-turning selection has a rather narrow habit.

Acer palmatum 'Amoenum'. Howick, Northumberland. Not perhaps the most exciting of varieties in a superb species of small tree.